AUBURN — There’s being first in line at Wal-Mart on Black Friday, fronting a line so long it took more than nine minutes to surge through the door at midnight.

Then there’s being at the head of that line for 10 years in a row.

And for that, you’ve got to be Carolee Taylor.

She and her husband, niece and nephew brought patio chairs and a table and settled in at noon Thanksgiving to cement that first spot. They studied the store map and plotted who would grab what.

“Only one grabs the cart and then we meet in lingerie,” said Taylor of Lisbon. “Me and my three girls used to do (Black Friday) all the time. I’m training my niece and nephew — they’re my runners.”

All over the country, eager shoppers like the Taylors lined up Thursday to take advantage of steep post-turkey sales. Headed into the holiday weekend, Adobe Digital Insights projected Americans would spend more than $3 billion on Black Friday, 14 percent more than last year.

With Maine’s Blue Laws, shoppers here have to wait until 12:01 a.m. Friday to start spending.

And wait they did.

John Tardiff from Rumford claimed his top spot at Best Buy at 5 p.m.

“I want to see that smile on my kids’ faces when they see that big TV,” said Tardiff, dressed in his insulated hunting clothes and wrapped in a blanket.

By 11:30 p.m., he’d already received his “golden ticket,” assuring a 49-inch TV for $199, a $250 savings. He could have returned to his car, but opted to skip that warmth to check out the other tickets Best Buy staff came out with every few minutes for laptops and other electronics sales. Maybe they, too, would be a great get for one of his sons.

“At 11 and 15, something’s going to catch my eye — and my pocket,” Tardiff said. 

Taylor Schutt of Auburn and fiance Andrew Dillow had one of JCPenney’s doors staked out at 9:30 p.m. It was her fourth year shopping on Black Friday and each time, she’s hit JCPenney first.

The big draw: Random coupons handed to each customer at the door. The best coupon — and most rare — was for $500. The coupon she’d gotten each of her three previous years: save $10 when you spend $10.

“You’ve got to keep the hope,” Schutt said.

Last year, she and Dillow finished shopping at 5 a.m. and they planned to pull an all-nighter again this year.

“It’s like a rush — you get to come out and get all the good deals, get Christmas shopping done,” she said.

Barbara Lafontaine from Lisbon, who claimed her first spot in front of a second JCPenney door at 10:30 p.m., said the draw for her, too, was kitchenware and the elusive $500 coupon. Temperatures were in the 30s. The sky was spitting snow.

“Last year, it was really warm, but this year it’s all right,” she said. “As long as it’s not raining, I don’t mind.” 

In front of Kmart, Amanda DeFlumere of Lewiston snagged the first-in-line spot at 10:15 p.m. and was also planning to make a full night/morning of it, heading over to the Target in Topsham after making the rounds in Auburn.

“I just dropped my husband off at Best Buy and then came here,” she said. “We’ll be home probably by breakfast.”

At Kmart, the draw for her was a vacuum and Shopkins. She’d been up since 9 a.m., hadn’t taken any naps but had been drinking coffee, strategically — no one wants too many bathroom breaks with all those lines.

In front of Kohl’s, friends Debbie Osborne and Debi Morin, both from Lewiston, staked out the first spot in front of the door with camping chairs at 8:30 p.m.

Osborne had birthday money and knew exactly how she was going to spend it: On $89.99 boots on sale for $19.99. She was also looking to buy for friends on her Christmas list.

“I’ve got my credit card in my back pocket,” she said.

A Black Friday regular, she’d talked Morin into coming out for the first time.

At Wal-Mart, Taylor said she was shopping for herself and had lists from family and friends who couldn’t make it. The steep sales stretch her budget and others’, she said, making the wait definitely worth it.

Once Wal-Mart’s doors opened and deals were secured, she had lots more waiting to do: Taylor planned to wait inside the store until the layaway department opened.

Last year, that was 9 a.m.

[email protected]

Video at Watch the Black Friday rush at Wal-Mart early Friday morning (either to see what you missed or to see yourself!).

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: